UFC Middleweight bout: Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson
Odds: (-145 Belfort / +115 Johnson )
Betting Pick: Belfort
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In the semi-main event, up and comer Anthony “Rumble” Johnson will jump right into the deep end of the Middleweight division as he squares off against feared Brazilian striker Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort. Johnson struggled continually to make weight as a Welterweight, so 185 should be a much more natural division for him, but that may not matter against a striker of Belfort’s caliber. Johnson will definitely be looking to overpower Belfort with takedowns and grind this one out from on top, but Belfort’s ground game is fairly formidable and he has the tools to destroy Johnson standing, so this is going to be a tough Middleweight debut for “Rumble”.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is a very physically impressive wrestler who is making his debut as a Middleweight. He was trying to cut way too much to make 170 pounds, and as often as not could not meet his mark, so a move to 185 is a smart career decision for him. At 170, Johnson’s size and strength were his best attributes. Obviously he is not going to be as oversized at Middleweight, but he will also benefit from not cutting so much weight and depleting himself. I think at a more natural weight, Johnson’s strength will really shine, and his wrestling is still going to be tough for people to deal with. He is going to have to be smart and effective with setting up his takedowns, because on the feet he doesn’t have the speed, power, technique, or chin he would need to hang with Belfort for long. Securing takedowns won’t assure Johnson a win, but it will give him a chance, something he doesn’t have if this turns into a kickboxing match.
Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort is a UFC legend who has proven repeatedly that he is still one of the most formidable Middleweight strikers in the world. His hand speed, technique, accuracy, and power are all world class, and against “Rumble” he will enjoy a huge advantage in all of those categories. Belfort is also a pretty good wrestler with very underrated jiu-jitsu, but considering Johnson’s size and wrestling ability I don’t think Belfort will be looking to grapple at all. Instead, he will smartly press his advantage on the feet, moving toward Rumble aggressively and making him backpedal so that he can’t set up his takedowns.
This is a brutal fight for Johnson. For the first time he is fighting a guy who he isn’t substantially larger than, and a guy who is more than capable of testing his suspect chin. I don’t think Johnson’s wrestling is good enough to ground Belfort for three rounds and I don’t think his defense is good enough to keep him alive standing. Belfort will pick Johnson apart on the feet and ultimately put him away with strikes. Belfort by T/KO.
Prediction: Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort by second round T/KO.
Note: Johnson started around a +105 Dog and is now the favorite. Well now after his weight issues he is at +115 Odds.
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